ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Potosi

DAY 36 (1 OF 2) – MORNING DEPARTURE, POTOSI, BOLIVIA

After 3 nights of acclimatization in Potosi, we were ready to move on to our next destination – Tupiza, where our tour of Southwest Circuit would begin.
We checked out our hotel 6am in the morning, and took a taxi to the Nueva Terminal de omnibus (New Terminal) for our bus to Tupiza. Completed a few years ago, Potosi’s Nueva Terminal has a large circular hall covered by an enormous metal sheet dome. Spiral ramps and stairs connected the two levels. A restaurant on the upper level, and shops at the lower level occupies the centre of the hall. When we entered the building, we could hear ticket vendors on the second level calling out various destinations throughout the country. We got a ticket for an 8am bus. With a bit of delay, our bus finally left the terminal at 9:15. The bus journey took about 5.5 hours. Traveling with us on the same bus were mainly local Bolivians, and a French family of four with a 2-1/2 year-old boy and a 4 year-old girl. As we left Potosi behind, the bare and rugged mountain landscape was gradually replaced by valleys of cactus and bushes.

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Read other posts on Potosi, Bolivia
Day 33.2 – Arrival, Potosi, Bolivia
Day 34.1 – Civic Parade, Potosi, Bolivia
Day 34.2 – City Walk, Potosi, Bolivia
Day 35.1 – Convento de Santa Teresa, Potosi, Bolivia
Day 35.2 – Cerro Rico, Potosi, Bolivia
Day 36.1 – Morning Department, Potosi, Bolivia

Next Destination – Southwest Circuit, Bolivia
Continuing on our journey from post Day 36.2

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought

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DAY 35 (2 OF 2) – CERRO RICO, POTOSI, BOLIVIA

Cerro Rico (Rich Mountain) is the icon of Potosi.  Its silver deposit was the sole reason for the founding of Potosi back in 1545.  The wealth it generated put Potosi on the world’s map in the 16th century as the largest city in the Americas.  It also provided the main financial support for the Spanish empire for over three centuries.  On the other hand, Cerro Rico also represents one of the most cruel and tragic chapters in human civilization, as millions of indigenous and African slaves worked in extremely harsh conditions, staying underground for months, and as a result, over eight million slaves lost their lives.  Nowadays, local mine workers still work in conditions similar to the past.
The tragic history of Potosi captivated us ever since we watched the documentary The Devil’s Miner, directed by Kief Davidson and Richard Ladkani.  Through the eyes of two child miners, the documentary depicted the extremely challenging lives and working conditions of miners at Cerro Rico.  Before we came to Potosi, we have decided not to visit the cooperative mines at Cerro Rico.  Despite of that, the history and physical appearance of Cerro Rico was so overwhelming that we couldn’t resist but to spend considerably amount of time at our hotel’s rooftop to observe it from afar in early morning and late afternoon.  From afar, we noticed the unnatural colours on the mountain slopes caused by the mining and extracting process.  We also saw the irregular forms on the mountain slope made by centuries of human manipulations.  As vehicles going up and down the mountain road, we also wondered how local miners could sustain the lives of their families, knowing that most ores of valuable metals have already dried up long ago.  Watching the perfect cone-shaped mountain overlooking the dusty city of Potosi, while imagining its past and contemplating its future, Cerro Rico is captivating, heavy and saddening.
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Read other posts on Potosi, Bolivia
Day 33.2 – Arrival, Potosi, Bolivia
Day 34.1 – Civic Parade, Potosi, Bolivia
Day 34.2 – City Walk, Potosi, Bolivia
Day 35.1 – Convento de Santa Teresa, Potosi, Bolivia
Day 35.2 – Cerro Rico, Potosi, Bolivia
Day 36.1 – Morning Department, Potosi, Bolivia

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 35 (1 OF 2) – CONVENTO DE SANTA TERESA, POTOSI, BOLIVIA

It was a quiet long weekend Monday morning when we stepped out to the street of Potosi.  All banks and most retails were closed.  Knowing that Casa Nacioal de Moneda would be closed on Monday, we decided to visit Convento de Santa Teresa.  Took 12 years to restore, a large section of the 17th century convent was converted into a museum in the 1990s, and a new building was built to its adjacent to house the remaining small community of nuns.  A nun, who was also an architect, directed the restoration project.
We arrived at Santa Teresa just in time to join the last English tour before their lunch break.  The 1.5-hour tour provided us an insight on the convent life back in the colonial times until 1960s when reforms from the Vatican put into effect.  Back in colonial times, only the daughter from wealthy families could enter the convent with a sizeable dowry of religious artworks and precious items, many of which were on display in the museum.  Some of the display items, such as the skull in the middle of the dining room used as a reminder of suffering, revealed the disciplinary thinking and living of the nuns in the colonial times.  Other than religious artworks, the architecture of the convent was equally worthy of our visit, such as the ornate wooden ceiling panels of the church, and the well-preserved colonnade of the two cloisters.
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Read other posts on Potosi, Bolivia
Day 33.2 – Arrival, Potosi, Bolivia
Day 34.1 – Civic Parade, Potosi, Bolivia
Day 34.2 – City Walk, Potosi, Bolivia
Day 35.1 – Convento de Santa Teresa, Potosi, Bolivia
Day 35.2 – Cerro Rico, Potosi, Bolivia
Day 36.1 – Morning Department, Potosi, Bolivia

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 34 (2 OF 2) – CITY WALK, POTOSI, BOLIVIA

At about 4070m above sea level, Potosi is one of the highest cities in the world.  Because of the legendary silver mines in Cerro Rico (Rich Mountain), Potosi was once one of the largest cities in the world with a population of over 200,000.  Yet because of its rich silver deposits, Potosi also represents one of the most tragic chapters of human history:  under the Spanish colonial rule, uncounted numbers of local indigenous and African slaves were forced to work in the mines, and millions had lost their lives.  When the silver deposit started drying up in the 19th century, Potosi underwent significant decline.  Despite the decline of wealth and population, many colonial buildings, including the National Mint, many churches and convents survived until the present day.
After Sucre, Potosi would be the second stop on Bolivia’s Central Highlands for us to acclimatize to the high altitude before heading out to the Southwest Altiplano and Uyuni Salt Flats.  During our acclimatization, we wandered around the city in a rather relaxing pace.  We didn’t go far beyond the city centre.
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Read other posts on Potosi, Bolivia
Day 33.2 – Arrival, Potosi, Bolivia
Day 34.1 – Civic Parade, Potosi, Bolivia
Day 34.2 – City Walk, Potosi, Bolivia
Day 35.1 – Convento de Santa Teresa, Potosi, Bolivia
Day 35.2 – Cerro Rico, Potosi, Bolivia
Day 36.1 – Morning Department, Potosi, Bolivia

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 34 (1 OF 2) – CIVIC PARADE, POTOSI, BOLIVIA

November 10th marks the Anniversary of Potosi.  Yesterday’s civic celebration resumed this morning with more groups parading through Calle Hoyos.  We were glad to encounter the event, but the downside was that most museums, banks and restaurants would be closed today and tomorrow, meaning that we would not be able to visit the Casa Nacional de Moneda (National Mint) during our stay in Potosi.

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Read other posts on Potosi, Bolivia
Day 33.2 – Arrival, Potosi, Bolivia
Day 34.1 – Civic Parade, Potosi, Bolivia
Day 34.2 – City Walk, Potosi, Bolivia
Day 35.1 – Convento de Santa Teresa, Potosi, Bolivia
Day 35.2 – Cerro Rico, Potosi, Bolivia
Day 36.1 – Morning Department, Potosi, Bolivia

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 33 (2 OF 2) – ARRIVAL, POTOSI, BOLIVIA

At Sucre’s bus terminal, we had trouble finding a shared taxi or a bus leaving for Potosi anytime soon.  We had no choice but to take the slowest and cheapest option, the microbus.  If taking shared taxi, the journey would take about 2.5 hours.  For our microbus, it took almost 4.5 hours, which wasn’t so bad after all.  As we approached the outskirt of Potosi, we could immediately recognize the profile of Cerro Rico, the legendary mountain of silver, from a distance.  After checking in, we climbed up to the rooftop of our hotel which offered a spectacular view of Cerro Rico under the evening sky.  From the rooftop, we could hear ceremonial music from the street below.  While we walked out to find a place for dinner, we soon realized that tomorrow would be their city’s anniversary.  Celebrations of street parades had already begun.
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Previous Destination – Sucre, Bolivia, reading from post Day 32.1

Read other posts on Potosi, Bolivia
Day 33.2 – Arrival, Potosi, Bolivia
Day 34.1 – Civic Parade, Potosi, Bolivia
Day 34.2 – City Walk, Potosi, Bolivia
Day 35.1 – Convento de Santa Teresa, Potosi, Bolivia
Day 35.2 – Cerro Rico, Potosi, Bolivia
Day 36.1 – Morning Department, Potosi, Bolivia

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought